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 Is Hamas Moving Toward Moderation?

By Dima Abumaria | The Media Line

April 20, 2017

Graphic: The Flag of Hamas

New charter calls for Palestinian state in 67 borders but also endorses violence

The Islamist Hamas movement which governs the densely populated Gaza Strip is set to adopt a new constitution that calls for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, which some say is an implicit recognition of the state of Israel. But according to reports in Arab media, the new charter also calls for holy war to fully liberate historic Palestine, and demands to abrogate all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

According to the reports, Hamas also changes the anti-Semitic rhetoric that was part of the original charter. Hamas, according to the new charter, “distinguishes between the Jews, the People of the Book, and Judaism as a religion, and between the occupation and the Zionist project (which is) racist and aggressive,” hostile to the Palestinian people and to its liberation, self-determination and return aspirations.”

Hamas also reportedly severs its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and which has since been outlawed by current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The new charter sees Hamas as an “Islamic Palestinian national liberation and resistance movement.”

Palestinian analysts say the new charter is aimed more at the rival Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas than at Israel or the international community. Hamas is under pressure and financially strapped and wants to show it remains relevant in Palestinian society.

Earlier this month, a Lebanese network- Al-Mayadeen leaked a draft of the proposed new charter. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri tweeted that the leak was done “in an inappropriate manner” and emphasized that it was only a draft and that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal will release the approved charter.

It comes as the movement is being torn between two ideologies, represented by two orientations. The more moderate wing, connected to Qatar and Turkey, says that recognizing a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, meaning a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, should be the new goal of Hamas. The extremist wing, with ties to Iran and Hizbullah says that Palestine must stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and are willing to use violence to achieve their goals.

“There are different views within Hamas,” Palestinian Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi told The Media Line. “The realistic Hamas are willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. But that does not constitute a recognition of Israel, nor a loss of any Palestinian national rights, including the return of refugees and the right to liberate Palestine in its entirety.”

Extremist Hamas, he continued, won’t accept anything less than “historical Palestine,” which would include all of Israel.

Other analysts say the new charter as reported do constitute a change in policy.

“An acceptance of a state within the 1967 borders is an implicit recognition of Israel,” Ibrahim Al-Hajj, the head of the political science department in Birzeit University told The Media Line.

“The leaked charted is an outcome of Hamas last conference, which supposed to finish in the coming days” Fatah’s Vice President Mahmoud Al-Aloul told The Media Line. “Hamas has no stability in their political situation and doesn’t have an independent political decision, their decisions depend on what country they are trying to please

Since 2007 there has been a deep split among Palestinians, between the more moderate Fatah of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and the more hardline Hamas, which controls Gaza. This split has mad it impossible to hold Palestinian elections.

Hamas recently elected Yahya Sinwar, the founder of the Hamas military wing, as its new leader in Gaza. He spent more than 20 years in Israeli jails.

Hamas is under growing pressure as Egypt has cut off smuggling tunnels to Gaza, Israel continues to limit goods and the Palestinian Authority has stopped paying salaries of many of its civil servants. Analysts say the new charter aims to give Hamas new legitimacy and lay the way to repair the relationship with the Palestinian Authority.




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